PURSUIT OF EQUITY

We are hearing more and more about creating equitable spaces and classrooms within schools…and it is about time! I am so excited about this work because for a very long time, a large number of our students have felt left out, marginalized, less than, or invisible. I have yet to come across another profession that is as intentional and self-reflective as education. We are CONSTANTLY looking at ourselves and our schools for ways to improve; improve our teaching, our testing, our connection with our students, the way in which we push our students to connect to something bigger than themselves and with each other. Finding space for equity is an incredibly important aspect of focus but can seem overwhelming. Where do we start? How do we know how we are doing already and how far we have to grow? My suggestion is to start with your classroom and your curriculum. This checklist provides hard data on 27 observable teacher behaviors that contribute to culturally responsive teaching and equitable classrooms. This is a good place to start to see where your strengths are and where your growth areas are. CSTP has published a rubric that teachers can use when creating lesson plans to ensure that you are being culturally responsive with your planning and activities for student development. The Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium has put together a school-wide equity audit rubric that covers curriculum inclusion, teacher behaviors, school-wide policies, and classroom practices.

Some of the changes that need to happen may be small. For instance, my son, who is in third grade, has a reading assignment this quarter that requires that he read three biographies with no stipulations other than he be interested in the people that he is reading about. After learning about this assignment, I told him that he needs to choose one female biography, one person of color biography, and the third can be an open choice. That would have been a very small change for his teacher to make to this assignment, but one that would have provided an opportunity for students to explore people that they otherwise would not intentionally look for.

Some of the changes that need to happen may be large and overwhelming like the design of whole educational systems in places, practices in and out of schools, and the way in which resources are allocated. Keeping focused on the outcome of more engaged and successful students who feel supported and inspired is important enough to put in this good work.In focusing on the pursuit of equity in schools and in classrooms, my hope is that this newsletter will provide guidance on how to begin making those shifts, both big and small, in your classrooms and in your schools. The hope is that this newsletter will help you begin to take steps away from talk and into action by providing a framework for an action plan that you can commit to now and into the future. We love each and every one of our students, of course we do, but learning HOW to love each of them in a way that resonates with the student is the important piece that we need to begin to really focus on. If you have any thoughts, ideas, practices, or suggestions that you use in your own classroom or school that focuses on the pursuit of equity, please share with me.

EQUITY VS. EQUALITY: 6 STEPS TOWARD EQUITY

As we continue to focus on creating equitable spaces for our students, I think it is important to listen to what other educators are doing in their classrooms. Depending on where you teach and what your student make-up looks like, the creation of your own equitable space might look very different than someone else’s. I like this article by Shane Safir as it offers tangible suggestions from knowing each child well, understanding how their life stories influence their learning stories, and how to remain mindful of the idea that a “one size fits all” approach to learning is really a one size fits none approach. This work is hard and uncomfortable but every moment of critique and reflection are worth it when your students know that you see them and that you cherish them as much as every other student in the room.

10 WAYS EDUCATORS CAN TAKE ACTION IN THE PURSUIT OF EQUITY

Pedro Noguera is a founder of UCLA’s Center For The Transformation Of Schools. In this podcast, Noguera shares ten specific actions educators can take to pursue excellence through equity. Some of these are things we need to speak up about, some are shifts we need to make in our own mindsets, and others are changes we can implement in our own practices. Noguera goes step by step through each of these specific action steps towards more equitable classrooms.

  • CHALLENGE THE NORMALIZATION OF FAILURE
  • SPEAK UP FOR EQUITY
  • EMBRACE IMMIGRANT STUDENTS AND THEIR CULTURE
  • PROVIDE STUDENTS CLEAR GUIDANCE ON WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED
  • BUILD PARTNERSHIPS WITH PARENTS BASED ON SHARED INTERESTS
  • ALIGN DISCIPLINE PRACTICES TO EDUCATIONAL GOALS
  • RETHINK REMEDIATION, FOCUS ON ACCELERATION
  • IMPLEMENT EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICES AND EVALUATE FOR EFFECTIVENESS
  • BUILD PARTNERSHIPS WITH COMMUNITY TO ADDRESS STUDENT NEEDS
  • TEACH THE WAY STUDENTS LEARN RATHER THAN EXPECTING THEM TO LEARN THE WAY WE TEACH

READING CORNER

USING EQUITY AUDITS TO CREATE EQUITABLE AND EXCELLENT SCHOOLS

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 12.26.48 PM.pngI first read this book in my doctoral program and thought it was an excellent way for educators to use the power of equity audits to help eliminate achievement gaps and educational bias in their classrooms and in schools. This text provides a set of “inequity indicators” for evaluating schools, generating essential data, and identifying problem areas for school leaders. There are also nine skill sets for improved equity-oriented teaching for classroom use. There really is something for everyone in this text and I can’t recommend it enough to help you with this work.

ONWARD: CULTIVATING EMOTIONAL RESILIENCE IN EDUCATORS

Onward, Elena Aguilar’s newest book, tackles the problem of educator stress, and provides a practical framework for taking the

Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators

burnout out of teaching. I LOVE this book and the accompanying workbook. I could see schools using this as an ongoing PD for educators for the entire school year. This actionable framework gives concrete steps toward rediscovering your self, your energy, and your passion for teaching. You’ll learn how a simple shift in mindset can affect your outlook, and how taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally is one of the most important things you can do. The companion workbook helps you put the framework into action, streamlining your way toward renewal and strength.

  • Cultivate resilience with a four-part framework based on 12 key habits
  • Uncover your true self, understand emotions, and use your energy where it counts
  • Adopt a mindful, story-telling approach to communication and community building
  • Keep learning, playing, and creating to create an environment of collective celebration

THE CHALLENGE

This month, I challenge you to identify two areas within your classroom, curriculum, or school where you can begin to create a more equitable space. Use this Action Plan Framework (PDF version as well) as a way to organize your priorities and your timeline for this process. Check in with me throughout this process and let me know how it is going for you!
Have a great month and, teach well Friends!
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